From A-Z: creating a visual identity for a brand
Creating a solid visual identity for a brand is so much more than a creative brainstorming session. There’s always a systematic approach to branding; different people take different steps to achieve their branding goals.
For example, a design studio will focus on creating visuals, a logo, touchpoints and other branded objects, while the marketing department is more likely to focus on creating social media campaigns and advertisements.
I come from a design-oriented background so I usually focus on creating visuals and leave the marketing to, well, the marketeers.
There are six phases in the branding process that I try to follow as closely as I can:
1. Listening to the client
The first and most important thing to do is to listen – really listen to the client; not just to the words they say, but the meaning behind those words. Listen to how they describe their brand. It’s crucial to make sure you’re both on the same page and have the same vision. Understand their priorities as well as their target audience, vision, mission, and competitors.
Once you have all the information you need, don’t go straight to illustrator. Instead, go the old- fashioned route of pen and paper, it doesn’t matter whether you can “draw” or not; the point is to be free of the digital constraints and make as many errors as possible.
I start by sketching out anything and everything that comes to mind, whether it’s catchphrases, random words, shapes, and rough concepts for the logo. At this stage, be messy, don’t erase anything and don’t be afraid to experiment with various mediums. Everything ends up being toned-down when executing. I like to highlight all the ideas that might work and expand on them, playing around with shapes, wording things differently, experimenting with different techniques. Using watercolors, or a marker instead of pencil, is a particular favourite of mine.
3. Refining things and digitizing
When you feel like you’ve exhausted all your ideas, take what you’ve already come up with and start “digitizing” it. At this stage, you’ll begin to see what absolutely does not work. To me, this is the most challenging part, deciding on what to toss and what to keep; it’s important to make sure things work at different scales, from tiny business cards to websites and huge banners. It’s also important for me to create logos that are simple, timeless, and easy to read - however I do like to play around with the visual language, colors and typography.
4.Presenting to the client
It’s always a good idea to create mock-ups, like business cards, banners, packaging, brochures, etc. It usually impresses the client(s) and gets them thinking about expanding their touchpoints. It’s also super impressive for a small business owner to find their business name mocked-up on the side of a building. I divide the presentation, starting with the logo concepts, typography, colors, and visuals, then some mockups of the work.
After you’ve finished presenting, be sure to let the client know they don’t have to make a decision on the spot, and give them a few days to think everything over.
After the client has thoroughly examined the concepts, they’ll either email you with the changes they need or schedule a meeting. Either way, ensure that you really listen to their needs, and if they want to go in a direction that simply doesn’t work, make it clear to them, and explain why going that route would be a bad idea.
6. Final Delivery
After everything has been finalized, I make sure I deliver the designs to the client in every format they might need. It’s also important to create a brand guideline with all the things you created, such as visuals, typography, logo usages, the brand’s tone of voice, etc.
I hope my process has helped inspire you on your next branding adventure and if you’d like more information, get in touch with a member of our team today.